Monday, October 03, 2016

Así nació el Obelisco / [How the Obelisk Was Born]

ASÍ NACIÓ EL OBELISCO [Così è nato l’Obelisco / This Is How the Obelisk Was Born] (AR 1936) P+D: Horacio Coppola. 35 mm (blow-up from 16 mm), 164 m, 6' at 24 fps; no titles. Source: Filmoteca Buenos Aires.
    Le Giornate del Cinema Muto: Sinfonie delle città.
    Teatro Verdi, Pordenone, no titles on the film, grand piano: Günter A. Buchwald, 3 Oct 2016.

Eva Hielscher: "Horacio Coppola’s short film deals with the construction of the Obelisco, a monument that has since become an iconic landmark of the city of Buenos Aires. His film shares some aesthetic principles with the city symphony approach, as it portrays the erecting of the obelisk and places it in relation to the city of Buenos Aires and its inhabitants. Coppola, one of Argentina’s finest photographers of the interwar period and ones of its key figures of modernism, specialized in urban photography. In 1936 he was commissioned to photograph Buenos Aires for the city’s 400th anniversary, and took the occasion to shoot a film, Asínació el Obelisco, on his own initiative. The resulting images, especially his still photographs, including night-time street scenes and snapshots of urban life in the city center and its outskirts, are a unique record, and capture Buenos Aires at that period like no others."

"In 1929, Coppola co-founded the first cine-club in Buenos Aires, which screened avant-garde shorts, slapstick comedies, and European feature films such as Varieté (E. A. Dupont, 1925) and La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc (Carl Th. Dreyer, 1928), thereby introducing innovative foreign films to Argentine audiences. In the early 1930s he traveled to Europe, where he studied at the Bauhaus with photographer Walter Peterhans, developed his own avant-garde style, and met his wife, the German photographer Grete Stern. The couple fled Germany and lived in Paris and London before leaving Europe for Argentina in 1935. Coppola was familiar with the European avant-gardes and city-symphony films from his time at the Bauhaus, and during his years in Europe had already made urban-related films, about Paris (Un quai de la Seine, 1934) and London (A Sunday in Hampstead Heath, 1935). In 1933, together with Walter Auerbach, he also directed the experimental short Traum (Dream).
" – Eva Hielscher

AA: A surprising approach to the city from the viewpoint of the huge construction site of the Obelisco de Buenos Aires. Exciting angles, dizzying visions from the top of the scaffold, camera movements revealing new connections, a multi-dimensional montage, tracking shots from the top of the elevator, interesting observations of details of the construction work. The visual quality of the blow-up from 16 mm is not hot, it even borders on the video-like at times, and the print in low contrast.

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